Greetings everyone. I currently have a Meade 395 (90mm/1000mm) that I got years ago at a sale for like $20. The mount is not in good condition and the finderscope recently broke. But overall, I had some fun with it observing Saturn, Jupiter, and the moon. I have a homemade solar filter that I have used for various solar events including the recent transit of mercury. I have taken some photos with just my cellphone through the eye piece, but this piqued my interest in AP.
I would really like to start doing some AP. I am not sure what my total startup budget is right now, but I think around 2000-3000 USD. My latest master’s degree is in electrical engineering with a concentration in signal processing. The AP process from the equipment, control and automation, to processing intrigues me.
My plan is to start with a sub 1000 USD scope. I have been reading lots of forums and think I have it narrowed down to one of the three Amazon options
- Sky-Watcher ProED 120mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
- Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
- Explore Scientific Carbon Fiber 80mm f/6 APO Triplet
I like the price of the Sky-Watchers but the Explore Scientific triplet seems to be liked as well. The decision will come down to price. I figured the scope is something I can also upgrade a few years down the road and the Sky-Watchers comes with a viewfinder, diagonal, and two eye pieces. Sometimes you can find the SW ED120 used for around 1000 USD, so that’s the only way it made the list. Is there any reason (other than money) that I would be better off with the SW ED80 over the 120mm scope?
The mount is where I think I am having the most difficulty figuring out. I am looking at two Sky-Watcher mounts, the EQM35 and the EQ6-R. The EQM35 is cheap and should track the 80mm scopes well. However, I think the EQ6-R will track any of the above scope even better plus will allow me to grow in the future. My gut feeling right now it to buy once cry once with the EQ6-. I don’t mind spending money in the future to get a new scope that will give me a different capability. However, I don’t want to have to buy and learn a new mount in a few years just because I went too cheap at the beginning. If I plan to never spend more than 4000 USD on a scope, will the EQ6-R work for me now and into the future?
As for the DSLR, I am planning to start with the Canon EOS REBEL T7i. Its has a 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, shoots 60 FPS Full HD, and had a flip out screen. I don’t want to spend too much on the camera, because I know by the time I am ready to take it to the next level, 500 dollars will buy a whole lot more than it does now.
Last advice I need right now is regarding an autoguiding camera and scope. Will the 8x50 RA viewfinder on the Sky-Watcher work with an autoguider to just get started and learn the process?
I would like to attempt to image DSOs, but would also like to image solar events, planets, and the moon. I know all these items do best with specific optics, but I just want to be able to dabble in different aspects and see where the hobby takes me.
Any guidance for this newbie is appreciated.
Edited by kdsnet, 15 November 2019 - 05:51 PM.